More than 500 persons marched in Port-Louis today against the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Activists from Trade Unions, Social Organisations as well as Lalit's militants demonstrated from Champs de Mars up to the Air Mauritius building where a Common Declaration of Mauritian organisations, was remitted to a representative of Minister Cuttaree, Minister of International Trade.
During the course of the march, demonstrators also remitted a letter to Minister Lauthan, Minister of Social Security, to warn against any attempt to dismantle pension rights of citizens, specifically old-age universal pension.
Many Free Zone women-workers, most of them from the Leisure Garments Industry, who have just been sacked because of the implementation of the WTO agreement, actively participated in the march. They submitted a new petition to Minister Cuttaree, who is also Minister of Industry, to request that sacked free zone workers are given a Redundancy Benefit of Rs 2,000 Rs. They said free zone workers cannot bear the burden of capitalist globalisation, while bosses are being given Rs 1 Billion!
The quasi totality of representatives of the Trade Union movements also participated in this first ever march against the WTO in Mauritius.
This march was meant for Mauritian working people organisations to join the worldwide protests being held against the WTO and capitalist globalisation.
Demonstrators today shouted slogans like "OMC (Organisation Mondiale Capitalistes)- nu pale!", "Moris pa avann!- Mauritius is not for $ale!", "Nu drwa pa avann!- Our rights are not for $ale!", "Cuttaree pa vann nu drwa!- Minister Cuttaree, don't sell our rights!", "Non a privatisation!- No to privatisation!", "Travayer zonn frans viktim WTO!- Free zone workers are victims of the WTO!", "Pansyon enn drwa, Dilo enn drwa!- Right to pension, Right to water", "Pansyon minis monte, pansyon vyeyes menase!- Minister's pension raised, old-age pension under threat!", "Kapitalis angrese, Travayer lisansye!- Capitalists= Fat cats! Workers fired!", "The people united will never be defeated", "Down with the WTO, Down!".
Lalit's militants marked their presence with colourful banners and placards.
In the morning leading to the demonstration, Lalit jointly with LPT organised a half-day Seminar on "dangers of WTO". Dany Marie from Ledikasyon pu Travayer chaired the Seminar and Rajni Lallah from Lalit situated the WTO within the global capitalist framework and the alliance of government and the Mauritian Private Sector on this issue. Lindsey Collen from Lalit gave an input the implication of GATS on Social Rights of people and TRIPS on the monopolisation of human knowledge.
The National Trade Union Confederation also held a mini-conference attended by some 250 unions delegates at the Taher Bag Hall in Port Louis. Ashok Subron, member of Lalit, representing the General Workers Federation made an input on the WTO and how it is dangerously impacting on workers' life and rights. He also challenge the Mauritian State approach to the whole WTO issue, saying that the government is viewing the WTO "through the prism of the Mauritian capitalist". Delegates from the NTUC joined the march after the Conference.
The March was in the main item of MBC-TV of the main news bulletin of the night. Many reporters from private radios and newspapers were also present in the March.